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China: Growing melons in greenhouses

Because of the large temperature differences in Hami, Xinjiang, the melons grown there have a high sugar content and are thus very sweet. However, as more and more growers are switching to cultivating in greenhouses, the question arises whether smart greenhouses can reproduce such a temperature difference to make the fruits just as sweet.

Monitoring and adjusting
In the greenhouses, watering and fertilizing are automated; sensors are able to measure soil moisture, the amount of various elements such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium in the soil, and the pH of the soil in real time. If these parameters are below a certain minimum, the irrigation system will open automatically to supply the plant with whatever it needs to grow optimally once again.

Temperature differences directly affect the sugar content of the melons. Whereas you are dependent on the weather when growing them outside, one of the major benefits of growing in greenhouses is the capability to regulate the temperature inside. For example, the greenhouse can be kept warm during the day, and lower the temperature at night to create the differences that make the melon so sweet. The temperature and humidity are monitored by sensors, so the growers can ensure the temperature and humidity levels will always be exactly what the plant needs.

The melons require more than 10 hours of sunlight a day when they are in the flowering and fruiting period. The vines and the flowers need even more. Of course, a plant can need more sunlight than there is in a day, which is why the greenhouses are equipped with artificial lighting.

The entire greenhouse can be monitored through mobile phones; there are cameras everywhere, so the grower does not have to be present in the greenhouse 24/7 to check on the crops.

To see some pictures, visit Juyingele.

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